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A Fruitful Century

Unrest in the B.C.F.G.A.

A fruitful century

“Jock” Stirling, who had been president of the B.C.F.G.A. since 1946, had been gradually taking steps to reestablish the Association’s degree of participation in decisions. But he was working in cooperation with A.K. Loyd, and the first step was to establish firmly that B.C. Tree Fruits would be controlled by its own grower-elected Board of Governors and not by its paid professional employees. John Hall recalls the battle of wills with David McNair, the Sales Manager:

Jock had this one thought in mind-that any change in policy had to go through the growers-it couldn’t go through a paid employee. And I think he was absolutely right. . . .

Now Dave was an exceptional salesman. He could talk to anybody and he could talk them out of anything and he could talk them into anything. A tall, big man, quite handsome, lots of personality. . . . He decided that he would take over B.C. Tree Fruits, and there was no need to have a Board of Directors. . . . Finally A.K. Loyd brought it to a head at a Convention. . . .A.K. got a couple of us and told us what the score was. So we held a meeting. Nobody would take over the job, so I was elected temporarily Chairman of the Board of Directors of Tree Fruits. . . The finish of it was that it was decided that Dave McNair would go. And that’s when Babe Lander came over.

“Jock” Stirling died suddenly in August of 1949. For the remainder of the year, his position was filled by Ivor Newman, who was elected president in 1950. Unlike previous presidents who had pursued a hands-off policy with regards to B.C. Tree Fruits, Newman was determined to make changes, and other growers were now willing to ask critical questions.

Apples for juice at Oliver.Courtesy IOA

Of course when the money was flowing out in great floods, you weren’t supposed to ask these questions. But by 1950 the flood had dried up, the money was gone, and all sorts of people were asking questions.

Newman wanted changes in a hurry. He attacked the dominating influence of A.K. Loyd, who was president, general manager, and also chairman of the board of B.C. Tree Fruits. In 1951, Newman was elected to the board of governors of B.C. Tree Fruits. He endeavoured to cut down Loyd’s powers, running into a strong battle of personalities with him. Newman then resigned as governor and travelled the Valley trying to rally support for his point of view. Loyd, however, triumphed in the head-on clash; he did resign as chairman of the board but retained his positions as president and general manager of the agency.

The Fruit Board Electing Convention of May, 1951, elected Art Garrish of Oliver as President of the B.C.F.G.A., rather to his own surprise. He was nominated particularly because he was not a member of the executive and was acceptable to all factions. And the questions he had been asking at several past Conventions, about pooling inequities which subsidized low quality fruit, seemed much more relevant to growers now that there were not plentiful returns for everyone. Garrish was more able than Newman to work with Loyd; he “wasn’t going to be a stooge to A.K. Loyd in the running of the B.C.F.G.A.”, but he did manage to work with him on most occasions.

Peeling line at B.C. Fruit Processors’ Plant #1, Kelowna, 1951.Courtesy IOA

Garrish chose as his first effort the reorganization of the way in which industry officers were chosen. Instead of holding elections at the annual conventions, grower-delegates met in May to nominate members of the Fruit Board. Then they reconstituted themselves as the directors of the B.C.F.G.A. and elected the executive of the Association and of B.C. Tree Fruits. As Garrish complained, “nobody ever called them [the directors] together again” and so the organization was unable to react quickly to changing situations.

The Planning Committee recommended to the 1952 convention that all elections take place instead at the B.C.F.G.A. convention, with nominations from the locals through their district councils, so that B.C. Tree Fruits was more clearly under the control of the B.C.F.G.A. As Art Garrish recalls:

I was determined, from what I’d seen of the manipulation that had gone on, that the B.C.F.G.A. had to be restored to its position of authority in the deal, and the only way to do that was to bring the control of all the elections directly under the control of the B.C.F.G.A.

B.C. Tree Fruits was not happy with the decision, but was under sufficient fire at the time that it did not oppose the change. B.C. Fruit Processors, led by Gordon DesBrisay, fought the changes for a time, but eventually came into line. So industry activities came into the light of a more public forum, with much more information to and participation by growers.

After that, according to Garrish, “all that was left was to cope with the vagaries of the weather, the vagaries of the market, the bitchy-mindedness of the growers, and keep the damn show running.